NCAA Football

Placing Blame: Why Ohio State Lost to Wisconsin

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It’s never fun writing a column the day after a Buckeye loss. Never. This one however, is particularly painful. 2010 was supposed to be the year of the Buckeye, and while there’s a lot of football left to be played, our national title (and maybe Big 10 title) dreams look to be over.  As always, after a tough loss, people look for someone to blame. That’s not to take anything away from Wisconsin, who executed a great gameplan and played great football. However, OSU did plenty to hurt themselves in this ballgame. So, let’s take a second to split up the “blame pie.”

Blame Pryor? Nope.

Immediately following the game last night I got into an argument with my friend about this. He said that Pryor has played poor in every big game of his career except Oregon, and the Buckeye signal caller was to blame. While he certainly deserves some of the blame, I disagree that this loss sits solely on his shoulders. Pryor did play poorly, there’s no two ways about it. However, Scott Tolzien (Wisconsin’s quarterback) played equally poorly. Obviously OSU fans expects more out of Pryor than Wisconsin fans do from Tolzien, but I think it’s worth pointing out that they both threw for just over 150 yards with no touchdowns and one interception, completing exactly 50% of their passes. Pryor also ran for 56 yards, including some crucial runs and improvised throws that kept the game alive. He was a huge part of bringing the Buckeyes back. I also think that it’s noteworthy that the offensive line played terrible, and this left Pryor playing on his heels all night long. That brings me to my next point…

Blame the offensive line? We’re getting warmer…

The offensive line was dominated. This has been a weakness that has been talked about all season long, and against Wisconsin it finally caught up with the Buckeyes. Pryor was sacked three times, and was constantly hurried. Early on they couldn’t get any push for the running game, and it took a few wildcat plays by Dan Herron to open things up. I’d also argue that the Wisconsin defense was well rested by long Badger drives, and the Buckeyes were unable to get a push up front until Wisconsin had shorter offensive possession. That brings us to the defense…

Blame the defense? A little.

The Buckeye defense got dominated in the first half. They let the Badgers run all over them, and allowed them to own time of possession 18 minutes to 12 minutes. Their inability to stop the run dug a hole that OSU couldn’t climb out of, and they surrendered a late touchdown at the most crucial time in the game, when a stop was needed and the offense had momentum.

Blame the special teams? YES!

David Gilreath's kick reurn was a costly special teams mistake. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)

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OSU’s poor special teams finally cost the team a game. Everybody contributes when a team loses, but in this game, I put most of the blame on the special teams. OSU started the game down a touchdown when David Gilreath took the opening kickoff 97 yards to the house. A missed field goal with 4:25 left in the first half cost OSU the chance to be down two scores at halftime. Those ten points ultimately were the big difference in the game, and changed the entire dynamic of the contest. Just think of how different the game would have been if OSU was down 14-6 at the half instead of 21-3. Imagine if Dan Herron’s second touchdown run put the Buckeyes up 20-14 instead of down 21-18.

To me, this was the largest contributing factor in the loss. Allowing the Badgers to get 40.8 yards per kickoff return including a touchdown and missing a key field goal was the largest contributing factor to OSU’s downfall.

I hate putting arbitrary numbers on things, but for the sake of the article, I will. I’d split up the blame:

This article originally appeared on LandLoyalty.com